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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 110473
Experience:  Attorney experienced in commercial litigation.
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I recently took my vehicle in for a transmission rebuild. I

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I recently took my vehicle in for a transmission rebuild. I was given an estimate of $1800, and gave them the go ahead. They called me the day after they began repairs and said it wold be anywhere from $3300 to $8600 to complete the job and with no guarantees. We agreed it would not be in our best interest to repair this vehicle. When I called them about the best time to have it towed out of there business, since it is no longer drivable, I was told I have a bill of $790 for labor to tear it apart and tell me it was not repairable and if I want it put back together the bill would continue to go up in price. Is this normal and legal?
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking.

Whenever a service is performed by, in this case, a mechanic, even if it is to get an estimate, if work was required to even find out what the problem was, whether or not they could actually repair it or whether or not you decided to go ahead with the repairs, they are entitled to compensation for the time spent doing the work. In the law and courts, this is called the "equitable theory of quantum meruit" which is a court and legal theory that people are entitled to be paid "for the work done." As it does take time away from other work and it does take more than actually looking at the car, because the transmission had to be pulled apart to see what was actually wrong, the mechanic would legally be entitled to compensation for his time in trying to find out what was wrong. Most mechanics will indeed charge for something like this because getting a transmission out for inspection takes considerable time and effort as does putting it back in.

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Customer: replied 3 years ago.
9 hours of labor seems like a lot - how do I know if I'm am not being ripped off.
In order to determine if 9 hours is reasonable, check with your other local service stations or the dealer who has a book that lists the average time for hours it takes to take out a transmission. Generally, from what I have seen, 5-10 hours is reasonable depending on the car, but you need to check with your local mechanics and dealer and they can tell you for certain as I am a legal expert, not a mechanic.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Even though I was completely unaware that this could be the case - un repairable and still have to pay a $790 bill with an unusable vehicle. I never signed anything, but was told that when I gave them the last 4 digits of my ss# XXXXX his acted as a signature and allowed them to charge me for their time. It looks from the legal side of things that I will be out $790
I do understand your frustration with this, but I am afraid legally, they are entitled for their time and efforts expended to properly diagnose your vehicle. If you do not intend to do anything with the vehicle, you can negotiate with the mechanic to sign over the title to him in lieu of payment and get the deal with him in writing. Some mechanics will agree to this, but if not, I am afraid you would still owe him because he did do work on the vehicle.
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